CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Sept Day 14: TJ Anderson. Get to know this boy.
This picture is real. TJ Anderson lives in Charlotte. His family are our neighbors. Chemo is his life. Five years old and his bald head rips at your heart and the plea from his parents asking for more research and funding and dear God a cure... all that comes from life knowledge they're unlucky enough to live.
It's not always easy to tell these stories. TJ Anderson is one of the particularly tough ones. He was diagnosed with a nasty form of liver cancer this past April. He needs a whole new organ.
TJ is a great example of why ACTION is needed. Small gestures count. Read about him, then please share this post. Talk about it. Donate to a cause. Send a good thought to his parents. Maybe go big and sign up to be an organ donor.
You can't help TJ specifically though – doctors say he needs an organ from a deceased donor.
"His cancer is so large he needs not only a new liver, but also the vein that runs behind someone's heart," dad Travis told me. "Because everyone needs that vein to live, called an IVC vein, my son needs the donor to be someone who has passed."
He paused on the phone.
"That's the really hard part," Travis said. "Knowing someone else has to have the horror of losing their child in order to give our son a chance."
TJ lives with his parents, Travis and Anna, and 9-year-old sister, Patricia. He just started kindergarten this year at Berewick Elementary, within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He was able to attend the first day, but doctors say with the hepatoblastoma creating such low immunity, they don't want him to return until after he has his transplant.
So until a donor is found, his parents just wait.
TJ is on a list, like many children nationwide. He has been on that list since July 1st – seventy-five days today. His parents have a suitcase at the top of the stairs. The second they get that call, TJ and Anna will hop in an Angel Medical Flight and head to Pittsburgh.
Travis and Patricia will drive up and meet them.
COTA (Children's Organ Transplant Association) guesses the cost for a transplant for TJ will be $75,000. The Anderson's don't have that kind of money sitting around (who does??), but would love their concern be HOW to pay for a procedure that saved their little boy, rather than waiting breathlessly to see if he even gets a chance to have the procedure.
There is a timeline.
"Doctors told us a normal timeline is four weeks to six months from July 1st when he was listed," Travis said. "The sooner the better. We are trying to be calm about the whole thing. It is a tough situation, but I feel that it will work out how it should happen. We have to have faith."
Travis said TJ loves playing Playstation 4, loves the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tarheels, Carolina Panthers and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"We're at that point," Travis said. "He was diagnosed on April 20th and now, almost five months later when people ask me how I'm doing, I say we're just trying to figure out what's next."
Thank you, Travis and Anna, for sharing your son with us. This photo says so much.
PPS: In case you missed them: